Just like Lewis & Clark, only traveling from the other direction

This is Part I of the story of our “move” later this year. I can’t fit the whole thing into one post, so it’ll have To Be Continued…

We all know Horace Greeley’s counsel: “Go West, young man.” Ever the contrarian (as well as neither young nor a man), I am turning that on its head, and going East.

The other day as I was scribbling some memoir-ish thoughts about how I made the decision to move back to Hawaii from California three-score years ago, my memories were filled with the usual Hawaii imagery: sea, sand, sunsets, palm trees — and how they all combined to persuade me that leaving the mainland then was best for my twenty-something self.

That turned out to be a very good decision, because two years later I met a guy who also was born and raised here, went to California for college, then moved back home. We fell in love (Happy Valentine’s Day, Honey!), got married, and were perfectly content with the idea of living happily ever after here on our little island in the middle of the Pacific.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the mainland. Some of my best friends live there.

But sometimes circumstances — in our case, an opportunity plus a certain fatigue — combine to persuade you to go back the other way, which is how we will later this year be heading off to Oregon.

But not forever; only for about four months. So not exactly a move, per se. But kind of.

The opportunity happened because our girl, a junior in a lovely liberal arts college in Oregon, is volleyball player like her dad. She was recruited out of high school by a coach who is also an old friend of ours, a guy who grew up here. For the past three years, he has been dropping hints to The Coach to come up there and be his assistant.

All that time The Coach has had his own team to be responsible for, so it was easy to brush off all the hint-dropping. But the fact is, coaching high school girls has gotten a little less fun every year. No doubt about it, his team has done consistently well, he loves his players, and they love him back. However.

The parents. Oh, those parents.

Parents of student athletes these days can be, you know, you’ve heard all the stories … nightmarish. A couple years ago The Coach started to feel a little like Rick in The Walking Dead: a survivor surrounded by flesh-eating zombies. At one point he had to say, that’s it; no more parents in the gym, watching practices and questioning the goings-on therein.

While possibly trying to eat some poor coach’s brains.

Of course not every parent is that way, but still, it’s a wonder anyone signs on to coach any high school sport anymore. After 30 years, The Coach knew that he had seen it all and done it all — at the high school level — and why not just step away from it before total burnout set in? So the hint-dropping began to have its desired effect and the idea of coaching our girl in her senior season took root.

But how to make that happen? Because actually coaching is just a part-time gig for him: his full-time, i.e., “real,” job is teaching P.E. to young elementary students. Which, as you might imagine, keeps him plenty busy. Ever tried keeping up with, much less instructing, two dozen six- and seven-year-olds on a playground for 35 minutes straight, six times a day? I rest my case.

So, to sum up: 30 years of coaching teenagers plus the same 30 years of teaching little kids, equals oh man, am I tired and in need of a break.

As in, a sabbatical. But not a sabbatical to coach volleyball, exactly. In order for him to get approval to do this, he has to be studying something or working on a project that he can show is going to make his teaching, when he comes back from the sabbatical, ever so much better.

The project he came up with, proposed, and will be working on while coaching our girl and her team in Oregon, is pretty cool. But it’s a story — with pictures! — for another day. So stay tuned.

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